Biofeedback therapy is a technique that uses electrical sensors to give visual and auditory feedback about your body’s functions back to you.
Biofeedback will help you to gain control over the involuntary functions of your body like blood flow, heart rate, and blood pressure. This technique is often used to improve your physical health.
You can choose the type of biofeedback you need according to your requirements and recommendations from your therapist. Below are some of the available biofeedback options that you might want to consider:
Respiratory biofeedback training can help people have control over their breath rates, especially when faced with anxiety or high adrenaline rush. You need to wear sensor bands around your abdomen and chest to monitor the breathing pattern.
● Heart rate
There are many things like Yoga and Meditation which helps in lowering the Heart rate and works well for stress management. Heart rate biofeedback has proven to be beneficial for various conditions like asthma, anxiety, and depression. In this technique, sensors are connected to the ears, fingertips, wrists, or torso to monitor the heart rate.
● Blood pressure
Patients wear a device in their arms to monitor the blood pressure. The results are then studied to come up with appropriate relaxation exercises to regulate blood pressure.
● Galvanic skin response
Galvanic skin response is a technique that is used to measure emotional arousal in a person. This type of biofeedback therapy measures the amount of sweat on the skin surface.
Skin temperature is used to indicate the stress levels in a person. Sensors connected to the patients help to measure the blood flow in their body which in turn helps in identifying the stress level. A drop in blow flow indicates increased stress levels and vice versa.
● Brain waves
EEG or electroencephalography is utilized to measure the brain waves. Neurofeedback is used to treat patients with ADHD, anxiety, dementia, or depression.
● Muscle contraction
Electromyography or EMG is placed in your skeletal muscles to monitor your muscle contraction rate.
Uses of biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback therapy is used to treat ( not as a direct treatment, but as a way to help cope up or manage ailments) various physical and mental conditions.
This therapy has showcased proven results for anxiety, asthma, heart problems, high blood pressure, stress, depression, IRS (irritable bowel syndrome), Constipation, Stroke, Headache, and bladder problems to name a few.
Why is biofeedback popular?
Biofeedback therapy is popular because of its noninvasive nature. It can also drastically reduce the need for medication. The most important part is it makes one feel in control of their health and wellbeing.
How does it work?
Biofeedback training helps people in recognizing the subtle physical changes in heart rate, blood flow, etc, when anxious or depressed. Electrical sensors will be connected to specific parts of your body depending on the measurement type.
For instance, in the case of brain wave biofeedback, the electrical sensors will be connected to your skull. Whereas, in the case of heart rate biofeedback, the same electrical sensors will be connected to your ears, wrists, or fingertips. These sensors are then connected to a measurement device.
After getting the set up straight, the therapist will guide you through various techniques that might involve breathing exercises, visualization, or any other reflex and relaxation techniques.
As you perform these activities, your heart rate, brain wave, and blood pressure will change. These changes are recorded in the measurement device. The learnings from the measurement device are used to compute a custom activity to relax and get in control of your body.
● Computer programs/mobile devices
Electrical sensors are connected to your body and the computer will be able to give you the necessary biofeedback.
These devices help you pace your breathing, and control your bodily functions for improved physical and mental conditions.
The effectiveness of these devices is proven and it helps you in mastering your stress response in a calm and composed manner.
There are other devices like the wearable headband that monitors the activity of your brain. You can wear it while meditating and easily record when your brain is calm and active. In this way, you can structure your meditation to enhance mental stability.
● Other wearable devices
Wrists bands can help you monitor heart rate and breathing patterns. Other downloadable apps help you monitor breath rate and heartbeat. These apps and devices also alert you if you have an abnormal heart or breathe rate.
Risks associated with biofeedback
Biofeedback therapy is considered safe. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any kind of biofeedback therapy.